We’re coming to the end of a crazy year. However, just like every other year, we find ourselves reflecting on how we can set new goals and improve ourselves in the new year.
One of the ways we can do that is by reading books from experts.
Our Top 14 Must-Read Books for Business Owners and Marketers
Here you’ll find a few examples of books for business owners designed to enhance your marketing skills, share key business insights, and improve your use of art and design as they pertain to your business.
This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See — Seth Godin
Described by marketers and critics alike as Seth Godin’s magnum opus of marketing guidebooks, This Is Marketing is one of the best books about marketing we’ve found.
One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days — Brendan Kane
Another must-read for anyone needing to up their social media game in the upcoming year (with an anticipated update to be released shortly after the time of this publication), this is one of the best books about marketing that thoroughly describes the dedication necessary to build the kind of social media following your brand craves.
There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like your own company is working against you. For many marketing professionals, however, this is not an uncommon experience. There are plenty of instances where a company’s structural approach does not support its marketing goals.
Business Organization Helps Your Company Grow Without Hurting Performance
At Eminent SEO, we know that updating organization to enhance marketing is quite feasible. In fact, we’ve outlined many of these steps in our new eBook, “Building a Business that Booms: How to Structure Your Organization for Marketing Success.”
If you are a business owner in your community, you have probably heard about something called a local citation. You may have wondered what this term means. In simple terms, a local citation is any mention of your business on the internet. They can range from a partial citation such as a mention of your company name all the way to a complete citation that includes the company name, address, and phone number.
Does a Citation Need to Include a Link?
While a link back to your website within a citation can be helpful in giving your website an extra data point for search engines, it is not necessary in a local citation. Even without the link back to your website, the Google algorithm will still identify that your company was mentioned through the local citation information and give you credit for the mention. The more often your company is mentioned other websites, the greater your local ranking will be on search engines.
These citations are located in a business listing directory such as:
Any other online directory such as your local chamber of commerce website
These citations will include the most information about your business such as the company name, address, phone number, website, and even directions or a map to your location.
Yelp and Facebook also include an option for customer of your business to leave reviews or comments regarding your products or service. These reviews are often used by potential customers or clients when deciding whether or not to visit your establishment.
An unstructured citation is simply a mention of your business information on any website that is not a business directory. There are many places to find unstructured citations such as:
Unstructured citations may include a blog about your products or services or even a mention of special deals your company is currently offering.
They may include a phone number or website link in addition to your company name but, this information is not required as long as your company name is mentioned.
Why Are Local Citations Important?
There are two main reasons that local citations are extremely important for your business. The first is to verify that your business exists to search engines such as Google. If the only mention of your business comes from your own website, many search engines will struggle to verify that you have a legitimate business. By having your company name mentioned on other reputable websites, the search engines can easily verify that your business exists.
Local citations will also help you to establish prominence for your business in search engine algorithms. Have you ever wondered how search engines rank the pages that are displayed at the top of the results list? The algorithms for these search engines factor in citations when ranking local search results. The more citations your company has on the web, the higher your company’s listing will rank in search results. The key to ranking higher in the search results is to get your company name and information mentioned as often as possible throughout a variety of websites.
Are Some Citations More Important Than Others?
While having your company name mentioned anywhere will help you, having it mentioned on certain websites will help more. For example, having your company mentioned on the white house website will be more beneficial than having it mentioned on a small-scale blog. Citation value is separated into different classifications of importance.
Core Search Engines
Search engines are not distributors of business data. They receive the data and categorize it when determining how to display the information in search results. These include Google, Bing, and Apple Maps.
Primary Data Sources
These are the data collectors that verify information from a variety of sources and distribute the information to other sites. They include InfoGroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual.
Tier 1 sites are the prominent sites on Google and are often used by people who are searching for businesses. There are two types of sites listed in tier 1, generic and Hyper-Local and Niche sites.
Hyper-Local and Niche
Tier 2 sites are still prominent on Google search results but may be lesser known such as:
These sites are not frequently listed in Google searches and are not very well known by the general public.
My Local Services
These sites have a very low authority and are rarely heard of.
When looking at citation options to get your business more attention from search engines, it is important to consider the quality of the citation.
Consistency Is Important
When it comes to local citations, it is important that each citation for your company lists accurate information. To do this, you will want to look at each site that features a citation for your business and make sure that there is only one listing and that the listing contains accurate information about your business. You will want to focus most of your attention on the Core Search Engines, Primary Data Sources, and Tier 1 sites. You should then verify your tier 2 citations as well to ensure accuracy within those sites. Tier 3 and 4 are the lowest priority when verifying citation accuracy as they will not make or break your SEO.
How to Build Local Citations
There are five important steps to follow when creating citations for your business. It is important to follow all five steps to ensure the best possible results.
Step 1 - Email Address
To create listings for your business you will first need an email address. It is always recommended when doing anything related to your company to use a company email address rather than your personal email address. This means an email address that is associated with your company’s domain not a Gmail or Yahoo address. Having a company domain email address will cause your listings to be more trusted and more likely to go live after creation.
Step 2 - NAP Consistancy
Be sure that your name, address, and phone number are the same on every site that your listing appears. The formatting may be different on individual sites and that is fine as long as the information contained in the listing is correct. Check to make sure no numbers have been inverted or swapped in the address and phone number fields and that there are no spelling errors in the company and street name. These errors may cause your listing to be less trustworthy and delay it going live.
Step 3 - Categorization
Read through all category choices and choose the ones that best describe the type of business you own. Then be sure to select the same categories on each site you are posting the listing to. This consistency will make it easier for search engines to verify your business and see that it is a legitimate company.
Step 4 - Details
Add as much detail as you can without going overboard. You can add photos, your logo, a description of your company, hours of operation, contact information for social media accounts and much more.
Step 5 - Verification
Claim your listing. Once you have created the listing on a site, most will ask you to verify the listing before allowing it to go live. This verification process will be done via email or phone. For phone verification, the company will call your business and request that you enter a pin number you had previously received or give you a pin number to enter online. Verified listings have more authority and a higher level of trust.
Finding Citation Sources
There are a few ways you can go about finding citation sources for your company listing. Which option you choose will depend on how much time and money you have to devote to the project.
Hire a Company
If you have the money to invest in the project but lack the time to do it yourself, hiring a company to do the legwork for you is a great option. These companies will find the most reliable citation sources for businesses in your local area and compile a list of the top citation sources for your local area.
Search for Citation Sources
You may also choose to search for citation sources on your own. This process can be lengthy but the rewards for your company will be great. Begin by finding the top national citation sources. These may include:
Google My Business
Once you have compiled this list of national listing sites, you can then look for citations based on your business category and location. Begin a search that contains your company type, city, and state.
Review that results of other citations for similar businesses. You can do this a general search or search out specific competitors and review their citations. This will help you to determine which direction to go while creating your own citations. You can accomplish this by searching for the following:
(city) Business directory
(city) Business Listings
(keyword) Business Directory
(keyword) Business Listings
When determining how to best optimize your local SEO, citations are considered one of the basic foundations for any company. Citations should be created before you focus on engagement, content, and link building. One of the greatest parts of local citations is that you never have to worry about them again unless any part of your business information changes. These changes may include moving to a new location, new phone number, make changes to the company name, etc. If any of these things occur, it is important to update your citation listings to maintain the most accurate information.
Life circumstances have a way of setting the tone for who we are and how we perceive the world around us. While most of us may try to leave our personal world outside of the workplace, it’s obvious that to err on the side of ‘fail’ in that would be prudent. But why? Has negativity gone wild? Moreover, is it an accepted norm instead of a character flaw formerly sought to overcome? When negativity impacts business relationships, do we have the mental and emotional chops to strategically maneuver it in our favor?
Perhaps it depends on whether you see a glass half empty, half full, or ample with opportunity…
If Nothing Is Off the Table, Be Careful About How You Set It
Remember the days when you were a mere toddler or seven years old when your mind was full of wonder. The most difficult concept to learn (just ask your parents) was the term and acceptance of the word “No”. (I know a few adults that still have trouble with this.)
Is it because we are naturally hardwired for “Yes” or positive thought? Well if so, something happened between birth and the here and now. The good vibes have seemingly taken a back seat in our mainstream and it’s adversely affecting what we expect of ourselves, others, and corporate cultures.
Fear Breeds Fear and Discontent
Some say happiness is a choice. You wake up each morning and can decide how you perceive the day. Sure, a positive outlook is great, until the day comes at you like a runaway freight train. If you have the mental agility to step out of its way or embrace it head on, one could call you a survivalist. Notwithstanding that, over time, the freight train of pessimism will impact your business dealings, future relationships and potential for referrals.
If you encapsulate the bad sentiments that seem to supercharge human reaction and implement them into product or service marketing strategies, as many companies do, it will garner you more attention. But what kind of attention? And would you know what to do with it?
Where Negativity Breeds, Brand Reputation Follows
Let’s get back to you, this morning, when you decided to wake up on the right side of the bed. (Even if you didn’t, pretend you did.) If you’re a W-2 employee, you’re making your way to your job site. If you’re a 1099 contractor, you’re either heading to a client meeting, about to enter into a conference call, or nursing a cup of coffee just the way you like it from the comfort of your living room sofa, wearing your favorite sweats.
No matter how you show up at work, ask yourself this question as it relates to negativity: Are you part of the problem or the solution? Then again, if negativity is part of the productivity that oils the corporate machine, your adaptability to this mantra may be a source of job security. If you do it well, how effective are you at turning the negativity off at home? Something to think about.
After a brief personal assessment, if you’re finding that pessimism is more prevalent than not in your life, how many people does it touch? And how many do they touch?
Adulting can be damaging to your wellbeing. If only we can revert the clock and be that cantankerous child who cannot accept the word “No’.
Unfortunately, we crave the word “No” and all its direct and indirect monikers because that’s what feeds our interests and conversations, on- and offline. Did social media content force the hand of human disgruntlements or is it the other way around? The cause and effect of negativity gets lost in the blur of rage, shared.
Company Culture or Counterculture Is Like an Hourglass
The spine-tingling phrase of “being a company fit” continues to create a stir in employees and job candidates. When you’re in the company, it doesn’t take long before you can distinguish between the culture they want to emulate and the reality of what is. But employee or client dissatisfaction can quickly alter company culture into something best kept hidden, though seldom remains under wraps.
Company culture used to be created and illustrated from the top down, from C-level execs, to managers and their reports. Naysayers to traditional work culture were once thought of as a subculture and limited to a small grouping of employees and contractors.
But now, because of social media, dissatisfaction can generate and ooze from the bottom up. If this goes unchecked, it quickly casts a wide net across social platforms affecting internal relations, client interface and trust, marketing reach, and perceived value overall. But by shaking things around, you can get right side up again—unless negativity feels good.
If You Dish It Out, Better Be Ready to Take It
The standard fare for any business marketing endeavor will include a mention of one’s product or service features and benefits. For many companies, that approach isn’t good enough. Sometimes, advertising campaigns need to step outside of a brand positioning’s comfort zone and do the unthinkable. For many, this means resorting to tactics that take the pressure of a lackluster product and focus on all that’s wrong with their competitors.
Negative ad campaigns can be effective, as long as the business and the brand is well established and is likable. However, companies do utilize negativity in their marketing strategy when drawing attention, any attention, is the reigning goal. This can be formulated as an internal or external strategy, though keeping things in balance can be challenging.
How to Put Good in the Bad
If you’re daring and need a good kick in the butt-of-marketing, adding a little content sneer, on-air mention, or balls out assault on your competitors. A little guerilla marketing, some bad taste, and who knows you could be the talk of the virtual town.
Mud-slinging? You betcha!
I recall working at a peer-revered terrestrial FM radio station here in the Phoenix metro area some years ago. We were part of a larger broadcasting company that had but four stations here in town: three rock radio formats on FM, and one sports radio channel on AM. Within the rock radio stations, there was music programming cross over between two out of three stations, such as:
Classic Rock > Album Rock > Hard Rock/Alternative
As you can see from the above programming flow, the album rock station shared some of their audience with either of the other stations, though seldom did listeners CUME of add TSL from classic rock to hard rock. This put the pressure on the album rock station to perform. And yes, that’s where I worked as an on-air talent, writer, and producer.
You might think that management thought it wise to market the stations collectively, position each as part of a “powerhouse of rock ‘n roll”. But that was not to be the case and here’s why. It was all about the advertising revenue (isn’t it always). The broadcast company would make more money if they kept the stations segmented, and, competing against one another from the inside out.
Marketing dollars were shifted each quarter, from one station to another. On-air talent blasted their peers at the other stations, live on their shows, without abandon. These negative jabs spilled over into audience sentiments, raising radio wars across the airwaves. Advertisers took advantage of the emotional fire and spent more money at multiple stations.
Here’s what was achieved:
Greater employee station loyalty
Greater internal work ethic
Low employee turnaround
Increase in listener retention
Stronger brand identity
Stronger brand awareness
Increase market reach
Increase in CUME and TSL (from station to station)
I wouldn’t recommend this approach today as I’m not sure it would turn out well with the added traction that social media provides. Because what you say and how you say it lives on forever in the virtual space.
Are Social Smut Campaigns the Best You Can Do?
Statistics show that the increased rate of mental illness diagnoses and suicides today are correlated to social media presence and how we, as humans, gage its importance. As long as we, professional marketers, know where our audiences live, why not up our ante on how to approach them and leave the emotional slash and burn behind?
Until we can move past the divisive attitudes of winning vs. nothing-else-matters, negativity will continue to have rightful place in society—but at a cost. Even with all that we know about the impact of scorn and skepticism within media messaging, it remains a single key differentiator in how political elections are won.
Keeping a Lid on Sour Grapes
There’s an age-old saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Maybe we need to revisit that. As content media experts, we need to take ownership of our messaging because it affects our audiences. That’s our job, right? With all this power, perhaps putting some fresh eyes on irresponsible negative spins may help change the emotional and behavioral tide that is hurting our communities. And it starts from within.
Businesses Keep It Real on Social Networks
One of the most proactive practices you can put in to your business and its marketing is to make sure you have dedicated team members who do nothing more than monitor, manage, and respond to your social channels.
It’s a quick, reliable way to get an idea of how your customers and the public perceive your culture, your brand, and your products. In addition, active social engagements in real time allow you the opportunity to persuade opinion towards the positive, nurture the followers you do have, and build new relationships.
Are you ready to get an honest opinion about your own business culture? Does your mission take a misstep when it comes to your internal people? Do you walk your talk?
Send out a survey to your employees and make sure it’s set up for anonymous responses. There’s no reason to worry that the answers won’t be honest. Remember, people want to share their voice and be heard.
And if you’ve already decided that this will result in a bad turnout, perhaps you should get your negativity in check.
Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.
Business owners and the employees that work in the medical marijuana community may not think about whether they have public support for their marijuana dispensary. And why should they when the primary focus is on serving the people who already find value in their products and services. But there’s a larger picture here that affects the long term livelihood of any cannabis-based company and it’s centered around neighborhood sentiment about the industry as a whole. If this speaks to you, without the support of local municipalities, businesses, and the people who live nearby, your marijuana business won’t have a leg to stand on.
Know the Legal Challenges of Marketing Marijuana
Enthusiasm is great when you want to open your doors with the intention of serving the public well. But intention doesn’t pay the bills; your customers help you do that. The playing field for the cannabis industry is tightly woven with regulations and laws that may have loopholes for constructing workarounds, if you can find them.
Although marijuana laws differ from state to state and invariably with the federal level as well, following specific laws pertinent to your state of business is paramount to setting yourself up for success. And while some states may seem to have more forgiving or gracious pathways to starting a cannabis business, government strategies have long been set up in a manner that won’t be in your favor.
This is why you need to hire legal experts in marijuana, real estate, and intellectual property.
There are intricacies involved in the medical marijuana industry that don’t enter into any other business. And if your cannabis business is going to have a website, which it should, intellectual property may be involved. In addition, since the marketing of marijuana has other laws that must be abided by (especially when marketing products for sale online), you’ll need to know what you can say and visually display, and what you can’t. An attorney with expertise in cannabis will know how to properly draft the terms and conditions of your website, as well as what’s needed in the physical location of your operation.
Real Estate Aspects
Searching for and securing the right space for your marijuana business can be a lofty battle, likened to a chess game that you’re stepping into – with a deficit.
It isn’t about knowing what you need today to run effectively and efficiently, but foreseeing your needs one, three, and five years down the road. Even if you’re looking to rent space from a property owner, (if they are good with your business model) adjustments will most likely be required to accommodate your needs. Tenant improvements can easily be worked into the lease agreement. But unless you’re taking up an entire strip center or planning on being housed in a standalone facility, you will have to share your intentions with nearby tenants, property owners and homeowners.
This is where the challenges can come at you from all sides. We witnessed this in Phoenix, Arizona.
Embrace the Negative Nancys
A desired location for a medical marijuana dispensary is more than just logistics. The property has to come with the right zoning. If it doesn’t, a zoning variance is required. This is where it gets sticky. To prepare for the zoning hearing, other public meetings will take place designed to help the cannabis business acquire positive sentiment behind their proposed zoning variance request.
Here’s what can happen, and does.
By proposing your cannabis enterprise to the local residents (business and homes) you will be opening yourself, your personal and business brand, to a litany of ridicule and judgment. Not everyone is an advocate of what you do. In fact, there remains a lot of fear about it in the minds of many naysayers.
To have a viable shot at easing their fears, perhaps even removing them, give them a forum to speak. Make sure you listen to them. What the naysayers will tell you often provides the clues to what you’ll need to do to quell their negativity. If you can do that, they are less likely to show up at the zoning variance hearing and derail your plans for occupancy.
If a nearby homeowner is concerned about his family’s welfare and the risks that a cannabis store might bring, explain the characteristics of your security protocols. If privacy is an issue (should neighboring property back or side to the proposed cannabis shop location) discuss how to remedy it by adding height on an existing perimeter wall. Share your operating hours with them and come up with a plan that everyone can live with.
Marijuana Industry Advocacy Is a Full Time Job
Just like in any industry, not everyone is going to love you. But staying cognizant of potential setbacks fueled by misinformation or unflattering public sentiments will help you avert the same.
Top Tips for Public Support in Marijuana Dispensary Marketing
Public relations will have an impact on marijuana dispensary marketing, be it good or bad. To arm yourself and create a strategy ahead of time, you’ll need to map out potential challenges. Once you’ve identified them, generate a list of solutions for each challenge. This will save you time, energy, and money because you’re eliminating prospective setbacks to your business launch that would come with being positioned on the defensive, instead of the offensive stance.
Tips to Stay On Top of the Public Outcry
Stay current on state marijuana laws
Stay current on local legislation
Know key players in local government who are marijuana advocates
Forge positive relationships with other business owners who will speak well of you
Attend community and charity events
Host neighborhood meetings to show local support
Retain solid legal representation who knows the marijuana industry
Partner with a marijuana dispensary marketing agency
Keep facility security and employee professionalism as a priority
The Sweet Spot between Outreach and Off the Grid
It’s been said that people can’t criticize you if they don’t know you exist. True. But with easy access to people, places, and all the what-ifs and what-fors that fall within them, a point, click or swipe on social media makes staying silent a virtual impossibility, pun intended.
While it may be an initial preference to keep your cannabis business on the down low, it’s not a strategy that will give you any traction and credibility. If you want to be a leader within your community, take on what’s necessary to get you ahead, use the existing laws and regulations to your advantage, and leave the rest behind.
Imagine yourself sitting at a negotiating table. You could be the business owner looking for the best way to market your company products or services to a captive audience. You might be the marketing executive, hoping to secure a new client. But no matter which side of the table you find yourself, there is an unspoken, yet crucial, aspect to forging this relationship. Hidden between the lines in even the best drafted agreement is the business marketing expectations that reside within each party. And seldom do the twain meet. Here’s why.
Not Everyone Speaks the Same Marketing Language
You may know your business, but it doesn’t mean you know marketing. On the flip side, marketing agencies know the nuances behind great copy and show-stopping design (or they should) but don’t count on them being experts at the differences between lug nuts. But if you manufacture lug nuts to a variety of industries, for example, how do you know which creative agency can help you effectively share the information, reestablish your brand, and build a following all about lug nuts? You don’t, initially.
Lug Nuts Don’t Help If They Don’t Fit
Allow me to expand on this makeshift scenario. You are the lug nut company. We Are Ego is the marketing agency looking to pitch and land lug nuts as a client. Here’s how a typical meeting might go down, whether you’re working at getting the account or desperately trying to keep it.
The We Are Ego agency believes they know everything about marketing. Its owners will tell you that as a fact. As such, they pitch you and pontificate in detail about how their knowledge and experience supersedes what you know about lug nuts. If they’re any good at their pitch, they’ll have you believing that. And if they’re just as talented at convincing your customers that you are the lug nut kings of the industry, this relationship will be golden.
But where there’s ego, there’s noise.
Your client’s customers won’t focus on the noise. Sure, they might be intrigued by the ad or promotion delivery. They could be intrigued by the marketing message or can’t get enough of the latest product offering. But the bottom line to the lug nut customer is… the lug nut.
Dialing this back a bit further, advertising agencies of the past reveled in their ability to spin their audiences through solid creative. Today, it takes a back seat to the most important aspect of marketing: The people who will consume your product or service. People are primary. Period…
…now back at the negotiating table. You’ve got two different kinds of people. How can you make them fit into each other’s square hole?
The Digital Debacle
If the lug nut company has a CTO, then you can banter beautifully about the analytics of social channels and the scalability of your preferred web design template and how it will lessen the cost and down-time in production, if they switch to your platform. Unfortunately, for the lug nut management representatives at the table representing sales, operations, manufacturing, legal, and logistics, all you’ve done is throw a slew of terminology at them that might as well be Greek. Because it is.
You haven’t impressed them. The lug nut team now feels out of step, out of touch, and belittled. How can they gage your value when they have no idea what you said? And so much for building trust. Good job We Are Ego. Great way to pitch a prospect (sarcasm overload here).
Technology and digital means of communication have allowed us to touch more people faster, but with much less efficacy. It has desensitized our ability to connect on the human level, which is where you truly need to be to reach people and make a positive, lasting impression. Isn’t that what marketing is all about? This goes for client interface too.
How did we get so lost in this data driven society?
Some People Read But Nobody Listens
This is a story of the chicken and the egg. The internet has reset the bar on how many media impressions a person can take per second and, with that, the attention level needed to take it all in. The result is that people cannot nor care not to truly digest what’s being thrown at them.
In addition, now that we (consumers) are expected to process more information at a quicker rate, we have less time to spend on each marketing message. This is a challenge for the marketing agency. Getting your creative to craft messaging that grabs the attention of the reader/viewer is the key to bringing a lug nut brand to market and growing it from there.
Unfortunately, people don’t read. And when it comes to marketing agency-to-client business agreements… these people don’t read either.
Where Egos Talk, Pigs Fly
Then there’s the art of listening. What? Exactly. People are generally more worried about what they are going to say than concern themselves with whatever it is that you just said. Right. This brings new meaning to the term circular conversation. People talk but the communication doesn’t have a purpose and seldom goes anywhere. Isn’t that productive?
We’re still at that negotiating table. While this meeting may just be an initial client pitch for their business, negotiations between a marketing agency and a client are always taking place – every time they communicate.
Swallow that truth, and you might change your communications best practices.
Marketing Agency and Client-Side Etiquette
Say what you mean
Mean what you say
The above points may require some extra work on both agency and client but it will save countless hours of frustration and heightened emotions along the way. And it will save your relationship, instead of having to salvage it.
If you’re the agency, perhaps you prefer boasting about your creative portfolio, stellar accounts, and trophy wall full of awards. Gloating doesn’t make pigs or clients fly. But some agencies try. They try.
Revisit Conversations, Often
Think back on the last conversation you had with your marketing agency or member of your internal marketing team. You have a recollection about a web-based initiative, the deliverables needed and the associated deadlines. There was scope creep involved but the deadlines stayed the same.
Unfortunately, that was just the part of that prior conversation that you chose to remember. The marketing guru emphatically remembers that the deadlines got pushed, because of scope creep.
People tend to remember what they want to remember especially when it serves them best. However, had there been additional conversations about the shift in scope, the misunderstanding would be caught and addressed earlier, without the agency/client standoff.
Right, Wrong and Fair
My father once told me, “Business is like life. No one ever said it was going to be fair.” The ins and outs of the marketing agency and client relationship parallel that statement. There will be times in your partnership (that’s what it should be) where volatility will rise and patience will falter. It’s okay to have differing viewpoints on what will work in marketing and what won’t. The essence of your shared dynamic is in realizing you want to achieve the same goals. How you get there may be the source of contention, which isn’t bad.
Opposing marketing ideologies keeps the agency and the client on their professional toes, acquiescing into learning new things, and staying competitive. And in that – everyone wins.
Establish the Preferred Method of Chatter
Have you heard about the 5 Languages of Love? I wouldn’t bestow those onto your business relations; however, there are languages of communication. Depending on many factors, every person will have their own preferred method for communication.
Whether the reasoning behind the preference is convenience, audio or visual sensitivity, as well as a combination of both, make sure to ask what the best form of communication is per agency and client representatives.
Restate the Obvious
Be it a phone conversation, text message, video conference or email correspondence, send a follow up communication and reiterate the major points covered in the communication. State your understanding of the takeaways from it, as well as the next steps needed. Then ask the other party to confirm your understanding or provide counterpoints that differ, in writing.
This will serve both sides well in the event of scope creep, memory loss or momentary lapses of reason during an overview of marketing budget, performance metrics or creative campaign presentation.
Nothing Can Replace a Face-to-Face
Most of us have been guilty of sending an email to the wrong person and hitting “Reply All” instead of “Forward” or “Reply”. What about your ill-thought response to a client or agency message? When you perceive it the wrong way and blew an incident way out of proportion.
Digital communication snafus happen. Often.
Derail the damage done by adding a monthly face-to-face with your client. If a client isn’t local, work in a trip to their office at least once a quarter or have them come to you. It’s the best way to get a comprehensive understanding of who they are, if they’re confident in your abilities, and whether they truly like you. Does that even matter?
Yaaass. People prefer to work with people they like. If a client has found two different marketing agencies with similar reputations and solid performance benchmarks, agency personality and likeability are the tipping point to securing the account.
Your Contract Is Your Friend
It may not be fun to enter into a business agreement between agency and client with a litigious mindset, but it’s worth its weight in preventing hassle down the road.
A well-crafted contract is your friend. A solid agreement provides the foundational support needed when missteps happen over the course of the marketing agency/client association.
But don’t think that the marketing service contract is all about numbers. Of course the budget, monthly retainer, KPIs and ROI is important. But what blurs the numbers and the mechanisms to achieve them are expectations that get glossed over from one side to the other.
Can you avoid assumptions borne from expectations? More than you might think.
Add specific provisions into the contract:
Cost for changes to deliverables
Cost for scope creep (production and timelines)
Call out preferred communications to be used
In addition to the above, revisit the contract (internally) every 90 days. You’ll know if you (agency or client) are in accord with the terms and conditions and can make adjustments before the other side calls you out on it. If you feel that a modification should be made to the contract, consider drafting an Addendum and scheduling a face to face to discuss the matter.
Here’s what can happen if you don’t.
The Agency Is the Last to Know
You’ve never been asked to meet with the business owner. But you received a call out-of-the-blue and now find yourself doing the two-hour road trip late on a Friday morning to get there. But you’re prepared. You’ve got the latest monthly reports ready to be presented showing the steady increase in site visits, social engagements, and followers. With any luck, you should be receiving the final edit to the latest video production creative has completed and know it will “Wow” them.
But something happened between contract and expectations that was never discussed.
You enter the conference room and find 10 angry-looking executives who scowl at your very presence. Instead of presenting numbers, representative of the fruits of your labor, you receive a lashing of untruths relayed in expletives. The core accusations?
Skewing performance numbers
Justifiable? Not according to the contract. Unfortunately, the contract can be perceived in multiple ways. (Isn’t that how attorneys secure ongoing employment?)
This client/agency encounter didn’t end well, though it could have.
If the Relationship Can’t Be Saved, No Need for Sour Grapes
Never burn a bridge in business. It’s short-sighted, like cutting off your nose to spite your face and almost as painful.
Regardless of how you believe the other party wronged you, this is all temporary. And if you’ve served your client well, let them go gracefully. Time will show truth. They may come back at some point in the future when they see the value of your business and what you brought to the table.
Should that happen, follow the guidelines in this blog. But before you e-sign on the dotted line, come to a place where agency/client expectations meet and egos are left at the door.
Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.
You can build game rooms and throw all the free pizza at your employees that you want, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be more invested in your company and that you’ll get the best work out of them. If employees feel like your company’s leadership is lacking and that they’re limited or stagnant in their roles, trouble (or at least turnover) lies ahead.
Lack of employee engagement is plaguing the U.S. workforce. A 2014 Gallup poll of more than 80,000 employed adults found that 51 percent were “not engaged” at work, and an additional 17.5 percent were “actively disengaged.” An Officevibe infographic from last year revealed that 75 percent of people who leave a job cite their bosses as a reason. Also, while 89 percent of employers think their former employees have left for more money, only 12 percent actually have done so.
On the bright side, companies that were found to have high employee engagement bring in 2.5 times more revenue than competitors who struggle to maintain their employees’ loyalty. Additionally, employees who are engaged in their roles were discovered to be 87 times less likely to leave their company than their disengaged colleagues.
Are you looking to foster a workplace environment that brings in more revenue and has a strong rate of employee retention? Of course you are. Therefore, start working on the strategies below in order to boost employee engagement:
Challenge Employees and Set Clear Goals
Employees that have something to work toward and are consistently challenged will stay engaged. Whether it’s seeing a project to completion or if there’s a promotion in store, employees like to consistently pursue goals of some form. Getting them bogged down with repetitive, unchallenging work that has no end in sight will have them yearning for the exit door, or, at least, it will be a waste of their talents.
Growth is crucial to keeping employees engaged. If they feel like the company is growing and that they can grow within the company, then you should have them locked in for the long term. When you set goals for each employee, try to make it a collaborative process. Get their input and then arrive at goals that are clear and challenging, yet reasonable.
Live out the Company Vision and Encourage a Strong Company Culture
Your company’s vision statement should inspire and motivate employees while also keeping them on track toward a common goal. If you’re trying to inspire them to embrace the corporate vision, you must do more than direct them; your management team has to lead by example. It will be nearly impossible for your employees to “buy in” if the leadership team doesn’t appear to practice what they preach.
On a related note, don’t forget to keep working on fostering a strong company culture, which could entail activities outside of work and at lunch. Leaders who take time to interact with employees apart from the normal business setting will help build workplace engagement. Volunteering is a great activity for team-building. Softball, bowling, golf or volleyball teams are also prime ways to get employees involved. Taking time to get to know employees on an individual level, while still giving them some distance, will only help to keep them engaged and committed to your company’s vision.
Transparency Is Key
Let employees know what’s going on with the company, such as what changes are in store, which obstacles and opportunities lie ahead and how the staff is doing in terms of reaching its goals. Meet with your staff on a regular basis, and set aside some time to review individual performances. The Officevibe infographic noted that 43 percent of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week, whereas only 18 percent of disengaged workers get feedback that often.
Employees appreciate being in the loop, and when they are, they’ll start to get an idea of how all their work is starting to pay off. If they feel like what they do has an effect on how well the company performs, they’re going to be all that more invested and engaged. Eventually, they will start to act as leaders themselves, and they’ll be some of your biggest advocates in making sure the company grows and succeeds.
Keep Your Cool and Maintain Confidence
Even when your business is in a rough patch or you’re facing an unfamiliar predicament, keeping your cool and operating with confidence in every situation is going to be crucial to keeping employees from getting frazzled or anxious. You’re still learning and growing as they are, but you’ve got to model the demeanor necessary to face all challenges. You don’t have to sugar-coat everything (see “Transparency Is Key”), but you can always reiterate your belief in the company’s mission and that you all will pull out of any rough waters before long.
If you model the qualities of a leader and you live by the company’s vision, you just might be cultivating a group of leaders in their own right. If that occurs, you can expect many of them to stick around with the company for years, and some will certainly grow into larger roles down the line. Invest some time in helping your employees grow professionally, and you’ll likely strengthen their allegiance and elicit their highest quality of work.
When we create a custom website strategy for new clients we still sometimes get push back on whether or not the businesses website needs to have a blog. Often times it’s the item on the strategy that people end up cutting out or think they can “take in house”.
There’s no doubt that having a killer blogging strategy brings many benefits. However, many business owners are still overlooking this key aspect of their online marketing strategies.
I’m not saying you should blog just for the sake of blogging. I’m saying you need to create a killer content strategy that’s going to help grow your business and a blog is one of the best ways to do this.
The Benefits of Business Blogging
Let me first point out that business blogging is extremely affordable, and, you can do it yourself. You don’t necessarily need a marketing company or professional writer to do this for you. However, if you do choose to blog yourself, you may need to look into how you properly optimize your blog posts, or outsource this piece to in order to increase search engine visibility for your blog. We love it when clients write their own blog posts, but most rely on us to edit them, optimize them, post them on their sites with great images and share them across their social media platforms.
Increases Website Traffic
Looking to increase your website’s search engine visibility? Blogging can help do this. Not only can you increase the amount of traffic to your website but the amount of qualified traffic. Why? Because when your blogging strategy is properly targeted to your buyer persona, you get targeted traffic to your website.
After all, 61% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog. (source)
What better way to attract those qualified leads than by creating fun, useful content?
Helps Boost Your SEO Efforts
Part of attracting qualified traffic is publishing properly optimized blog posts. You can write your blogs based off keyword research which, in turn, will help increase the chances of your blog showing in the search results for that term.
New content can also help boost your SEO because search engines love the fresh content. They will keep coming back to your blog and crawling your content when they can see it’s published frequently. Which also helps increase the amount of indexed pages on your website – another huge value add from an SEO perspective.
On average, companies that blog receive 434% more indexed pages. – Hubspot
More indexed pages means more chances for your site to show up in the SERP’s.
Builds Brand Awareness
Who doesn’t want to be known as the expert in their industry? Chances are your competition is already blogging. If not, you want to be ahead of the game by becoming an industry expert – NOW. You want users to keep coming back for more, subscribe and share your content because it’s not only worth reading, but sharing as well.
In order to effectively build your brand awareness with blogging you need to influence subscribers to share your blog posts. Basically, you need interesting, useful and sharable content. Your competition might already be blogging, but are they doing it effectively? Is their content receiving social signals? Are people engaging and commenting on their blog posts?
Social media engagement is a key aspect of building your brand awareness. Share your content on your own social media to increase your social signals and hopefully spread your blog/brand to a wider audience. Create a blogging and social strategy that will kill your competition to become an industry leader.
Increases Conversion and Leads
Okay, so we went over how you can easily attract those qualified visitors, but your blog content can also help convert them into leads. The setup of your blog is an importance piece to converting visitors into leads, along with your high quality content that includes clear calls to action.
For one, you want to have a closing call to action at the end of every post. The most effective calls to action that convert visitors into leads include collateral and other content they can subscribe to, download or otherwise get for free, such as: eBooks, case studies, your monthly newsletter or other related blog posts. It all depends on the content and what the end goal is for that visitor.
An easily accessible “Subscribe to this blog” call to action is also important. You want to get visitors to subscribe so that they know every time you publish a blog post. Then, when subscribers continue coming back to your blog they eventually convert into something more than a subscriber, like a lead.
There is no doubt that every online business should have a blog for their website. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, you need one – even if only to work with your other online marketing strategies, such as SEO and social media.
Of course, there are many other benefits to hosting a blog on behalf of your business, but we think the points above really hit the primary benefits.
Have questions on how to start a blog or about creating a blogging strategy for your business? Call us today at 800.871.4130 or ask in the comments below:
Social Media is imperative for businesses online. You need to be where your audience is. And where are they? On your website? Maybe. Maybe not. But you know they ARE on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Typepad, Posterous, LinkedIn, YouTube or some other social site.
Did you know that as of September 2012 Facebook has 955 million users, over 42 million pages and 9 million apps? YouTube has over 4 billion views per day. Google + now has over 250 million registered users! LinkedIn has 175 million. Twitter 140 million.
Here at Eminent SEO we understand the value in involving social media as part of a larger scaled on-line marketing plan. Although we specialize in SEO, we believe that SEO without social is… well, dead.
Social drives direct, targeted traffic to your site.
Social helps you directly engage with your clients.
Social increases your product and brand awareness.
Social allows you to share your day to day specials, events, office updates and fun, more candid aspects of your business.
Social encourages people to share your posts, content and links – making your outreaches more viral.
Social increases your search engine visibility, helping your website rank higher in the organic search engine results.
In a nutshell: Social rules.
For years every online marketer has muttered these 3 words at least once, “Content is king”.
Is it still? Yes, more than ever! And what better way to share that content then socially for millions to see? Content can be a number of different forms of digital media from text to animated videos. Some common sharable content ideas:
A properly optimized social media platform is a perfect place to house your digital content and give Google and the other engines another way to get to your site. By integrating your SEO strategy into your social media optimization your platforms have the opportunity of ranking on their own for your target keyword strategy. Why give Google only one website to rank for your brand and keywords when you could give them 100’s?
Here at Eminent SEO we believe in customizing your marketing strategy to incorporate social where it most benefits your business. We do research before making suggestions so we can recommend developing social profiles on platforms your demographic is already using. We then design, optimize, manage, network and boost your branded profiles for increased awareness. Social requires daily management in order to be effective. If you don’t have the time to manage your social media, don’t worry, we do! If you want to do the bulk of your social networking, but need advice, we can do that too. If you are interested in learning more about our social media marketing services – then click this link to visit Eminent Social Media and how we can help take your social media marketing strategies to the next level… or you know, just call us: 1.800.871.4130
Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.
In my experience since about 1994 I have been working for an online advertising agency before the Internet got white hot and Netscape was all the rage and the browser wars were in full bloom. I had been working in direct response advertising for fifteen plus years and in the “direct marketing” world and the direct marketing disciplines was the step child divisions of the big ad agencies. However, the financial guys noticed that the direct marketing guys were holding their own with the general agencies in terms of profits.
Fast forward to 2012 and almost anyone who is a web designer can technically call him or herself an online advertising agency. But if we go back in time in this Wikipedia citation in 1864, ad agencies had to be flexible and “create demand,” i.e. William James Carlton began selling advertising space in religious magazines. James Walter Thompson joined this firm in 1868. Thompson rapidly became their best salesman, purchasing the company in 1877 and renaming it the James Walter Thompson Company, which today is the oldest American advertising agency. Realizing that he could sell more space if the company provided the service of developing content for advertisers, Thompson hired writers and artists to form the first known Creative Department in an advertising agency. He is credited as the “father of modern magazine advertising” in the US.
The distinction here is that the “true ad agencies” not only bought media for their clients they also created content as described above. Today we see some of the very same similarities where an online ad agency will create content such as a video, game, widget or maybe an infographic then place these bits of content on various outlets and hope the viral buzz of social media can pick it up. The challenge for both client and online advertising agency is that this really is not “bought media” but more like bought content with the hopes of getting some viral distribution.
There is a very distinct cultural divide between general print and TV ad agencies vs. an online ad agency. In my experience the online guys tend to move a little quicker and also tend to be a little more willing to learn and take on new challenges just because in the online world change happens at a much faster clip.
Back in the late 1990’s many of the large multinationals felt the need to supplement their advertising spends by hiring smaller interactive and online advertising agencies just because their larger general agencies just weren’t up to speed with digital and online advertising. However, it did not take long for the “big boys” to get up to speed by not only hiring away some of the best talent in the smaller firms but just outright acquiring firms like Modem Media at record pace.
While many of these smaller online advertising agencies could provide “online advertising” for just about anyone, in my experience the larger ad agencies broke down some of their skill sets into “healthcare advertising niches.” Having this level of focus allows the ad agency to focus on some of the technical aspects of HIPAA, OTC and DTC regulations especially when it came to pharmaceuticals and privacy. This can be extremely important because when the regulators come into play and liabilities for the clients. A lot of this type of online and offline advertising requires different writing and editing skills for “normal advertising.”
In summary if you are considering hiring an online advertising agency see if they have been working in your niche industry because this can help shorten the learning curve for testing different marketing strategies. At the same time even if the online advertising agency does not have experience in your field it always helps if they have experience in media buying in print, tv and radio and the traditional standby’s. The biggest reason I think this is important is I think you can usually test online advertising for a lot less than traditional media and should you want to go to tradition media since your online advertising is so successful it is an easier pathway having the same agency involved in both online and offline. For any questions or immediate pricing call Jim Peake @ SpeechRep Media, Inc. 781-990-8844.
This is how we see our business – changing the “ME” into “WE”. We want to help support your business while building a lasting working relationship. Visit our about us page – to learn what our staff has to offer you, and your company – let us help take your business to the next level. Lets build a lasting partnership!